Margaret River, Australia
I ’ve been visiting Margaret River since before I was born. The surf town, a three hour drive south of Perth in Western Australia, has changed a lot since my father purchased a block of land in the late 70’s. Since then the wine industry in the South West has boomed and Perth families want a beach getaway where they can enjoy a good bite to eat and drop to drink.
Being diagnosed coeliac (the Australian spelling for celiac) at 22, my trips to the breweries, wineries, and restaurants in the region are researched ahead of time. Margaret River is busy during school holidays, Easter, Christmas, and other public holidays, so we make it a rule to always book a table and to confirm that gluten-free meals are available in advance.
Our first stop upon arrival in Margaret River is the local IGA (supermarket) where they have a vast array of gluten-free foods available. We stock up on bite-sized snacks for during the day and fresh cuts of meat to barbecue for dinner along with a few pantry staples: gluten-free pasta, bread, yogurt, and eggs. On Saturdays, the Margaret River Farmers’ Market is my morning stop for fresh fruit and vegetables for summer platters and snacks. Temperatures in Margaret River are known to soar well above above 30oC (90oF) during summer, so chilled fruits make a wonderful naturally gluten-free snack.
While there, we stop at the retro caravan, Delish Ice, to choose a cool icy pole or pop—a necessity on hot days. Delish Ice carries a number of pops in seasonal flavours like ginger beer and lime and mint. (If you’re not into ice pops then stop by M&M’s Juice Bar for a cool freshly squeezed juice.)
We head up the street to The Urban Bean Café, a solid favourite among locals and visitors alike. With a great cup of coffee, gluten-free bread on offer, and a choose-your-own-filling omelette, it’s my go to breakfast spot in Margaret River. If you’re there later in the day, a piece of vegetable frittata with salad is a sure-fire winner. Gluten-free cake and coffee can be ordered to go if you want a treat while you’re exploring the area’s lush forests, art galleries, beaches, and wineries.
One of my top picks for a delicious lunchtime feast would have to be the stunning Voyager Estate located just a few minutes drive south of Margaret River. The restaurant has a separate gluten-free and vegetarian menu to suit their guests’ dietary requirements. On our last trip I thoroughly enjoyed my Harvey Beef filet with salardaise potato, wild black olive dressing, and rocket. The rest of my party enjoyed dishes that were also gluten-free including the vegetable terrine, which was a colourful collection of in-season summer vegetables finished with harissa and buffalo mozzarella; Pork cutlet with roasted stone fruit puree and pickled lemon and raisin salad with pecans; and the market fresh fish of the day with a fresh basil and mint salad.
A salted caramel parfait with summer berries and toffee popcorn finished off my lunch and left me waddling out of the estate, but not before I’d taken the chance to peruse the stunning rose gardens that sprawl across the side of the restaurant.
Recently we revisited one of our favourite wineries in Margaret River, Cullen Wines. The first Christmas after my diagnosis, my partner and I visited Cullen Winery for lunch; a portion of their menu caters to gluten intolerances. Cullen’s Margaret River White happens to be my favourite white wine, so a trip here for lunch under the weeping peppermint trees or inside their rustic restaurant is always a highlight for us.
Our last trip to Cullen’s brought us our new favourite dish: an amazing combination of roasted beetroot, honeycomb, and fluffy besan (chickpea) flour pancakes with goat’s curd, beetroot, and a rosemary reduction. Amazing! The honeycomb, made from Cullen’s own honey, has a delicious earthy sweetness that pairs so well with the savoury pancake and goat cheese. My fiancé and I were left thinking that we should have ordered two of them rather than sharing the one dish! For mains, I chose the pan-seared barramundi with creamed potatoes, rocket, and parmesan salad on a smooth-as-honey vanilla cream, while my fiancé chose the perfectly cooked organic beef sirloin with dauphinoise potatoes, sautéed wild mushrooms, spinach, and red wine jus.
One of Margaret River’s top attractions, apart from the beaches, is the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. After you walk through the extra wide doors (are they trying to tell us something?) they have huge bowls of chocolate chips for tasting in milk, dark, or white chocolate. It’s a chocolate-lovers heaven! If you’re already at the chocolate factory, it makes sense to pop around the corner to their sister company, Providore, for homemade jams, sauces, and condiments made using the produce grown in their own gardens. Their fruit & vegetable gardens are a great place to show the little ones which vegetables are which, and the chickens are always a huge hit!
Written By: Jasmine Ann Gardiner
Find her at: www.glutenfreescallywag.com